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Warriors of the Discotheque

2011
Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 71 Stevenson St. Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94105; 415-447-9750
Produced by Joseph F. Alexandre
Directed by Joseph F. Alexandre
DVD , color, 126 min.
College - General Adult
Dance, Gay and Lesbian Studies, Gender Studies


Reviewed by Monique Threatt, Indiana University, Herman B Wells Library, Bloomington, IN

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 10/25/2012

“You could be who you wanted to be for that moment, that night, or the next eight years…”
-A Starck party-goer
Originally released as a documentary-short in 2009, this extended documentary-feature takes the viewer to Dallas, Texas, where in 1984 the Starck Club opens as the (unconfirmed) Southwest’s answer to New York’s Studio 54. Designed by successful Parisian Philippe Starck, the club is literally a stark contrast to popular images as seen in the television series Dallas. Nor does the club’s interior mimic the infamous nightclub Gilley’s as seen in the movie Urban Cowboy. You’ll find no hay, punching bags, or mechanical riding bulls in this discotheque. It is cavernous, chic, modern, mysterious, romantic, and sophisticated. It is a surreal work of art.

Starck is the hottest dance spot to see and to be seen. It caters to the rich and famous, artists, celebrities, royalty, big-name musicians, professional athletes, straight and gender-benders. The social, racial and economic lines are a blur as common folk and the elite rub elbows. The club becomes so popular that it has a cameo in the movie Robocop, and it becomes the first club to legally sell MDMA better known as the drug Ecstasy until the DEA intervenes and labels the drug illegal.

Bartenders, club-goers, doormen and managers recount their experiences from the heyday of the club until its demise in the late 1980s. Just like Studio 54, it is often the gay doorman and the “gay mafia” who not only dictate who will have exclusive access to the burgeoning inner sanctum, but also it is they who will set the standard for fashion, music, and decorum. The term sex, drugs and rock and roll aptly applies to the mystique of the Starck Club.

You cannot mention a discotheque without mentioning the contributions of its DJs. In addition to the numerous big name musicians who would frequent the club like Grace Jones, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and especially Stevie Nicks who is a club partner, interviewees praise the unique talents of DJs Krootchey, GoGo Mike, and Rick who individually would play tunes not heard of in any other club, nor on the radio. Some of the DJs are revolutionary to import music from Europe, and to introduce partiers to rave, electronic, and underground House music as heard in legendary clubs like The Paradise Garage in New York. The music is ahead of its time due in part to the diversity of the crowd. Certainly the music, coupled with the freely available drugs, play a large role in the success of the club.

Unfortunately, all good legacies soon come to an end. By the end of the 1980s, numerous factors lead to the decline and closing of the Starck Club. The budget begins to decline, DEA officials crack down on drug use, a shift in the music scene, and the nouveau riche are looking to invest and, some may say, unsuccessfully, imitate the next “Starck.” Still, a sense of nostalgia lives on for those fortunate enough to experience the original Starck culture.

Warriors of the Discotheque is a superb resource for use in gay and lesbian, and gender studies. The film provides an excellent overview of a generation that existed in the throes of Madonna-esque style and dress, disco and new wave music before the onslaught of grunge, hard rock, and rap. The narrative flows smoothly, the music enhances the story and the interviews are well done. I highly recommend this film for both public and academic libraries.